(CNN) — Citing “disciplinary reasons,” a Georgia couple told authorities they locked their 13-year-old son in a small basement room with nothing but a mattress, a box spring and a bucket for a toilet, police said.
State child protection workers went to the home of Recardo and Therian Wimbush after receiving a tip and found the boy locked in an 8-by-6-foot room with no light bulb, books, toys or television, said Cpl. Jake Smith, spokesman for the Gwinnett County police.
“He was essentially being treated as a prisoner would be treated,” Smith said, according to CNN affiliate WSB. “The window had been painted over. There was no light bulb outside. What was inside was a bucket that the child was using as a bathroom, a mattress and box spring.”
Parents Recardo Wimbush, 33, and Therian Wimbush, 37, of Buford, Georgia, have been charged with child cruelty and false imprisonment.
Recardo Wimbush was a star football player at Georgia Tech from 1999 to 2002. A linebacker, he signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons but was cut before the season started.
The boy had been confined to the room about two years and locked inside since January 2013, Smith said.
He and his nine siblings appeared to be in good health and showed no outward signs of physical abuse or malnutrition, Smith said. The parents would bring food downstairs to the boy when the rest of the family had meals, Smith said.
The Georgia Division of Family and Child Services took the 10 children — the youngest, 18 months — into custody. The boy is the oldest.
At a deprivation hearing, the Wimbushes said the boy was put in the basement for “disciplinary reasons,” Smith said. WSB reported the boy said he was put in the basement room because he took the family DVD and lied about it.
CNN reached out Thursday to the Wimbushes as well as two lawyers who police said represented the couple. There was no immediate response.